Thursday, November 29, 2018

Craft Talk: Creative Cross-Training

Happy Poetry Friday. Enjoy the Round-up over at Carol's Corner today.

Recently, I met with my critique group. I love my crit group. Each of us brings something special that makes our work shinier than when we started. And, I like to talk process and craft.

I talked about a long term project I've been plugging away at. I believe in the project. I've spent  resources to move the project forward. Alas, as happens each school year, the project stalled and is now at a near standstill as my full-time jobs require more and more of me.


I found myself wanting to allow the writing life to guide my project rather than let my project to drive my writing life.

What does that mean?

I think -- I hope -- it means it's OK to take a step back for creative cross training.

I've never considered myself especially artistic. Yet, I enjoy making -- being crafty.

Give me  earbuds, an audiobook, or Netflix documentary and I and start stenciling, snipping, and mod-podging old book pages (thank goodness for the weeded books from libraries). I never thought of this as part of my writing life until I made PLAY my olw for 2018.

Creative Cross-Training--greeting cards

Creative cross-training is something that has been a fascination for me. If there is a better name for it, I'd love to know. Writers I admire sometimes share that they knit or bake, garden, quilt or photograph things. Is this part of their secret? Can I make it part of mine?

Some audio books I've enjoyed about creativity are: 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Gilbert, Elizabeth. “Big Magic.”, Penguin Audio, 2015,

Creative Quest by Questlove (Questlove. “Creative Quest.”, Harper Collins, 2018, 

I looked for a poem to capture what I mean by this creative cross-training. I didn't find one...but I'd like to. I think I need to write one.

Poetry Friday Friends what poem can you find or write to show creative cross-training? Do you creatively cross train? How so?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful, Thank You

Happy Poetry Friday,

Like many friends in the states, I'm working my way out of a food coma from Thanksgiving festivities. For us, it's a holiday to reflect and give thanks for what Providence has provided. I have much to be thankful for. Today, I am specifically thankful for the participants of Poetry Friday including Irene Latham who is hosting this week's round-up at Live Your Poem.

Here are some more Poetry Friday bits I'm especially thankful for...

Thankful -- Thank You


Writing challenges

April's progressive poem

Poem swaps

Publication celebrations

Photo prompt swap

Poet Interviews

Postcard exchange

Global poetry champions

Poetry Fridays

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tis the Gift

Happy Poetry Friday!

How are you navigating November?  As I was casting around for an idea for today's post, the Shaker song, Tis the Gift to be Simple caught me. 

On Monday, my family gave me a day to go history hunting. I drove into West Virginia coal country. In 1934, this area was hit hard during the Great Depression.

Demand for coal had dropped off after WWI, oil was on the scene diminishing demand even more, labor fought with business and then the stock market crash sent everything into a downfall for years. Miners laid off out in Scott's Run WV weren't used to making more than company script. There was no safety net save Mother Nature.

Arthurdale was a homestead project of FDR's New Deal. It was considered a hand-up rather than a hand-out by policy makers of the time trying to prime the pump of the economy while stemming the tide of widespread unemployment and specific homelessness and dire conditions in Scott's Run. There are millions of details and decades of detail to learn about Arthurdale.

Arthurdale was very much Eleanor Roosevelt's project. She poured her heart and soul into the 165 homesteads--of which 162 are still standing and inhabited today.

My time poking around one of her projects was a gift. The snapshots below of are my time there.

And bonus? One of the books I listened to on my ride was The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo......just before she won the National Book Award this week. Another gift.

Please don't miss the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Linda B's Teacher Dance. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

H is for Haiku...R is for Review

Hello Poetry Friday,

Isn't it nice to be able to say that Friday has arrived? I know it felt like a long, hard week by the time we all went to bed on Tuesday...wondering how we'd make it to here and now. But, we did it! It's Friday (the eve of as I type this).

These past couple of weeks, I've really needed some unwind time, you know? I have needed to come home from work and sit quietly for a few minutes. Any day now, I'm going to get that time. Ha!

For now, I enjoy Poetry Friday on my phone wherever I am in my day. Please stop over to Michelle H. Barnes' Today's Little Ditty for an amazing poetry, poem experience.

Another thing I'm really trying to do these days is to be present, in the not think about the future as often as I'm used to doing. You know what helps me do that? Haiku.

This past week, I spent time in, H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A - Z, by Sydell Rosenberg (Penny Candy Books 2018).

It's really tough to decide which is most important to lead a review with...the haiku itself, or, the story of how Amy Losak lovingly took her mother's haiku and crafted them into a picture book.

I literally flipped a coin to decide.

heads says, start with Syd
haiku reader and writer
city lovin' kid

~Linda Mitchell

That's the thing....each of the moments described by the beautiful, mindful haiku of Syd Rosenberg are from city life. Isn't this what we need today? 

Even if I live outside the city, the busy-ness of work and kids and house work, yard work, community's all so much. There's a city in my schedule! But, within the city, Syd finds those moments. Those beautiful stop here and rest moments captured in her haiku. Reading H is for Haiku is to enjoy twenty-six moments of rest....reading the words, feeling the experience of them and matching them to the beautiful illustrations.

Even if Syd aimed to write haiku for young people and this book is designed for young readers...I am a better person for reading it to at the ripe old age of #old-enough-to-not-want-to-tell.

Perhaps my favorite moment in H is for Haiku...illustrations by the incredibly talented Sawson Chalabi

It's impossible not to fall in love with how H is for Haiku came into being. Syd passed away. Amy, her daughter, spent time reading her mother's work, organizing it and arranging it into a lovely picture book. See more about that here. The A-Z format works well. But, alphabet letters don't over-power the poetry. 

H is for Haiku is a memorial and labor of love between mother and daughter. As I read and reflected on the picture book this week I thought a lot about my own mother and the art she left for me to remember her by. My mother's art was in clothing design and tailoring. I don't forsee myself creating a work in her memory in the same way that Ms. Losak has. But, I get it. And, I feel like both Syd and Amy are friends of a sort in that they get it too.

mom's birthday is soon
november fifteenth -- next week
candles in my heart

Mom and me....a long time ago

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Out of Pocket for VCSS Conference

I'm out of pocket for Poetry Friday this week as I'm presenting at the Virginia Council for the Social Studies Conference. The presentation grew out of a facebook post by Nikki Grimes over a year ago about book talks for teachers...wouldn't that be good? And.....many times I've talked to teachers about "sets" of books that would be good for specific topics.

My presentation partner and I are both librarians and have experience presenting with American Association of School Librarians. We thought a book talk of current books for Social Studies teachers would be a good idea.

On Friday, we are presenting Recommended Reads for Middle Grade Social Studies Teachers: World War II to present. These books match the current Virginia Standards of Learning for History & Social Science US History. Virginia is not a Common Core state.

Included in an abbreviated slide show of our talk on the VCSS Conference website one can find:
  • A link to a bibliography of books. (presentation titles are highlighted)
  • Criteria for title selection
  • Link to suggest titles--if there is a title you would like to see included (must meet criteria of the VA SOLs above)
  • A curation activity with lesson plan and materials
I hope that cross-conferencing between Librarians and Social Studies Teachers is productive. If you use any of the materials, I'd appreciate a nod. Let me know if they are helpful to you.

It IS Poetry Friday and hosted by the amazing, talented blogger, Jama who writes about food and literature! What could be better? I highly recommend a stop over at her blog to see what's cooking.